Jerusalem also called “The Thrice Holy City”, is the city claimed by the three monotheistic religions. In fact, this land is religiously significant to Christians, Muslims, and Jews: for Christians it’s the place of the birth and death of Jesus Christ; for Muslims, it’s the third holy city where the prophet Mohamad prayed and went to the heavens; as for the Jews, it is the capital of Israel, the sacred Land of David. The issue behind this cultural diversity can be explained by the studies of Claud Levi-Strauss1 who assumed that each culture has its own evolution and its own judgement principles. That’s why we can say that Jerusalem has three different histories, which may lead to political and social conflicts between each party. In the Judeo-Christian history, the Jews considered the proclamation of the state of Israel as the apology for the massive racist exterminations ordered by the European Christians against them during World War II. The apology would have been fully accepted if Jerusalem was declared the capital of this country. Whereas, in the history of Islam, Palestine considered an Arab Muslim country since the Ottoman occupation of the region, was forcefully occupied by Jewish people. In my opinion, the decision taken by Donald Trump who signed the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel neglected the history of this religion and made the Palestinians victims of injustice. This essay will discuss the philosophical theories of the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts that are still going on till this date.
Zionism, the Jewish pride
To understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is important to go back in history to figure out each culture and try to understand its evolution. To appreciate the development of the Jewish point of view, it is essential to study Zionism, their national revival movement. It has emerged during Exceptionalism, the philosophical movement that occurred in the late 18th century: the German philosophers like Johann Gottfried Herder and Johann Gottlieb Fichte started this movement by talking about a “national spirit” (in German: Volksgeist) that represents a country’s citizens who has traditions, language and history. This national spirit, that is considered a cultural identity, forges an exceptional pride for a nation. This makes every country unique because of its cultural entity but closed to the others because of its superiority. This movement was adopted by the majority of the European countries until the mid-20th century making the racism rise against every foreign culture. In Germany, the Exceptionalism gave credit to their ancient Christian culture and discredit to the Jewish culture, present on its soil in minority. It wasn’t only the case of Germany because the Jews were present in several European countries. That’s how Zionism was created and became the Jewish Exceptionalism reclaiming back their pride in hostile guest countries.
Theodor Herzl, an Austro-Hungarian journalist, political activist, and writer was the creator of political Zionism. In his opinion, a Jewish nation has to be established in order to value the culture and history of Jews that were minorities around the world. The fact that they will become a majority in a nation will fight the Anti-Semitism2 they were victim of especially since the 19th century. So Zionism is the Jews’ Exceptionalism that will guarantee establishing a national identity for the Jewish population who will speak the Semitic language, Hebrew not Yiddish, spoken by the Ashkenazi3. Herzl suggested Argentina, Palestine or even one of the British Colonies in East Africa as the Jewish country. But Palestine was the birth place of the Jewish religion according to the Torah4 and Jerusalem was considered as the holiest city in reference to the same book. That’s why Zionists preferred to settle in Palestine where they used to live before the Ottomans persecuted them because of their religion and forced them to leave to Europe.
In 1917, Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, signed a declaration in which he announced that the British government supported the establishment of the state of Israel in Palestine. After the loss of the three Central Powers5 during World War I, the Ottoman Empire was especially weakened and later dissolved. So, its colonial territories were put under English and French mandate. By that time, Zionists whose hope of settlement increased since the Balfour declaration, preferred Palestine, which was under an English mandate, to be their national home.
Before World War II, Nazism, that was the radical Aryan Exceptionalism, rose drastically and increased the hatred of minorities living in Europe especially the Jews. This led to the cruel exterminations of 5.93 million Jewish during the Nazi Holocaust6.
According to Pierre Nora7, there is a difference between “the Memory” and “the History”: Memoirs are made of subjective and symbolic memories and retrace how a group remembers a historical event. Whereas, the History is considered as an intellectual operation that retraces the objective reality of an event. So, it is considered more universal than the Memoirs that vary between different groups. In the case of the Jewish exterminations of the World War II, the objective History solemnly recognizes the injustice that hit the Jews. And according to Aristotle8, justice can be distributive or corrective; in his opinion when there is an injustice, the victim has to be compensated and the criminal has to be punished. The punishment aims to take away the profit stolen by the bad one. In the case studied above, the bad guys are the Nazis who initiated the crimes of World War II and the other countries that didn’t oppress that racism. That’s why, a compensation, offered by the Western World, was obligatory for healing the wounds of the Jewish Memoirs. The compensation had to fulfil the Zionists’ request of having Israel as a motherland. Therefore, the declaration of the state of Israel was acknowledged three years after the World War II on May 14th, 1948.
Paradoxically, the response to an injustice created another one: the proclamation of the state of Israel forced the Palestinians to leave their lands and to give it to the Jews. Today, this Palestinian Memoir is ignored by the majority of the Western countries who are more concerned about the Jewish Memoir. In other words, European and American countries only feel guilty for what their ancestors did to the Jews in the 20th century and do not recognize that they are repeating the same racist discrimination by giving the privilege to one culture. The decision of Donald Trump is the best example of the actual racism against Arab countries because it made the Palestinians lose their capital, Jerusalem, the city that they consider as the remaining part of their aggrieved national dignity.
Trump’s signature was supposed to be done by Georges Bush or Barack Obama, the two presidents who postponed the American Congress’s decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to avoid degenerating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the contrary, he approved the injustice of the “Arab” Palestinians which was predictable after his ban of certain Muslim countries’ citizens from entering the United States. These decisions show that the 21st century fascism targets the Muslims and people like Donald Trump don’t recognize that this racism might create conflict leading to a 3rd World War.
In my opinion, World War II taught us that any type of discrimination towards people who have different religions, ethnicities and habits is not acceptable. So, preferring Israelis more than Palestinians is intolerable. In addition, we are living today in an age of Globalization that is mixing the cultures in every country for economic, political and social reasons that’s why not accepting a culture is not profitable. But in the case of Israel/Palestine, Israel seems to show a higher economic power than Gaza Strip or the West Bank of Palestine, that’s why the USA preferred Jerusalem to become the capital of the uprising country. On the other hand, USA’s relation with Saudi Arabia is very tight in order to respect the Oil deals between them. In consequence, Saudi Arabians, that represent the extremism of believing in Islam, are ironically allowed to enter the US grounds while the Palestinians, who are unbeneficial for the Americans, don’t even deserve to get back their lands. What’s more, most of the Western countries who give the example of equality and respect of human rights, did not oppose Trump’s decision because of the expansive weapon deals they have with Israel, weapons they use against Palestinians.
Furthermore, in our social media and technology era, the distances between cultures are vanishing because a picture on Instagram or a tweet on Twitter can reach everyone instantly. This explains why someone can meet another one who speaks a different language and has a different culture without any boundaries. Sadly, even if all the Israeli crimes against Palestinians are reaching the whole world on the internet or on television, no one seems to empathize. According to Stanley Cohen9, the denial of the suffering of certain people we hear about is not our fault but is the fault of our governments or our humanitarian organizations like the United Nations because at the end of the day, a single citizen can’t stop an atrocity. So, in the case of Palestine, Donald Trump and all his supporters didn’t even seem to acknowledge the Palestinians’ unfair misery and wanted to end up with an old Congress decision.
Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Lebanon:
Because of several reasons, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had some consequences in Lebanon, one of the closest countries to Israel: first, a huge amount of Palestinians immigrated to Lebanon after the “Naqba”. These immigrants caused several troubles to locals. Being multi-confessional, Lebanon was divided into pro-Palestinian and anti-Palestinian according to one’s confession. For example, the majority of the Christians were tolerant at the beginning towards the Palestinians until they started to bully their mores and until Hezbollah was created.
Brigitte Gabriel, is a Lebanese-American conservative journalist, author, anti-Islam activist who wrote the book “Because they hate”. In this book, she tells the story of the expulsion of her family from Marj’youn in south Lebanon after it was occupied by Hezbollah. She narrates all the traumatizing events that happened to her during these violent events. During the recent elections in the USA, Gabriel advised the Americans to vote for Donald Trump because he held the same anti-Hezbollah speech as her. Besides, she obviously knew that, if elected, he was going to sign the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In Gabriel’s opinion, Hezbollah took part in the revolution against Israel considering itself the ally of the Palestinians not the Lebanese. It expelled every Christian family from the south of Lebanon to guard the Lebanese-Israeli borders. So recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would be a sort of revenge against the injustice caused to the Christians in South Lebanon. If we question her statement, we can say that her opinion can be considered egoistic because it’s linked to her trauma and doesn’t take into consideration the History of the whole region.
On the other hand, the litigation between pro and anti-Palestinian rose in Lebanon causing the 1975 Civil War and the occupation of Lebanon by Syria. At the end of the Lebanese Civil War, Palestinians camps were created in the suburbs of Lebanese cities aiming the protection of the Lebanese. But a big number of the Palestinian immigrants were naturalized or were accepted by the Lebanese society. But the Syrian armies were still occupying and terrorizing the Lebanese until 2005 when a huge protest expelled the Syrian occupation. Hezbollah, who was the ally of the Syrian Government, strongly reappeared as the actor of the Syrian decisions. For example, in 2006, a war against Israel was started by Hezbollah and caused huge loss for the Lebanese government who trying to maintain a stability.